Sunday, January 8, 2012

Photo Essay: Paramount Ranch & Raceway

I'd had Paramount Ranch on my list of places to visit in LA for a while, but I'd been putting off my visit. Sure, I was interested in the Western Town which still stands as a living movie set for a variety of westerns, but what else was there?

For me, given how much LA has to offer for exploring, it just wasn't enough that Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman had been shot there.

And then I discovered the part of Paramount Ranch's history that intrigued me most: the decommissioned raceway.

The famed race track was only open for a few years, and it was shut down in the late 1950s after fatalities on the figure-8 track, with its hairpin turns and dangerous conditions, became too numerous.

Part of the historic track's original straightaway has been repaved and serves as an access road to the national park site...

...but besides that, there's a surprising amount of asphalt that remains...

...though parts of it are clearly crumbling, with weeds and trees sprouting through...

As you follow the original path on foot (no motorized vehicles are currently allowed), you can imagine the adrenaline rush of racing those curves in a car...

...and you can almost hear the revving of phantom racecar engines, til you realize it's just the motorcycles roaring down the highway above.

In one section, far from any traffic of any sort, the tarmac is barely interrupted by nature or weathering...

...and you can still spot the original double yellow line painted down the middle...

The race track was featured in the 1957 film The Devil's Hairpin, whose nail-biting race scene featuring the original track can be seen here:

Related posts:
M*A*S*H at Malibu Creek State Park
Photo Essay: Franklin Canyon
Off to the Races: Part One
Off to the Races: Part Two

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